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Porsche-backed sustainability blockchain CarbonBlock wins Global Innovation Award


Created by German blockchain startup CircularTree and backed by Porsche, sustainability solution CarbonBlock has won the Global Innovation Award by Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley-based innovation platform. It was awarded as part of Startup Autobahn, a European mobility innovation program from Plug and Play.

CircularTree aims to create transparency in the supply chain and supports firms to reach sustainable development goals. CarbonBlock provides the carbon footprint of parts and materials in a supply chain, making greenhouse emissions more transparent. This is done through smart contracts that ‘digitally forward the CO2 emissions of components along the supply chain.’ This will incentivize firms to take more carbon-neutral approaches by enabling customers to compare suppliers’ carbon footprints. CarbonBlock also sets reduction targets to help companies to achieve carbon-neutral products. 

Porsche organized CarbonBlock as a pilot alongside two of its suppliers, manufacturing firm Motherson and BASF. Talking to Enorm Magazine, CircularTree co-founder Gunther Walden points out that “just because a company is itself CO2-neutral, doesn’t mean its product is.” Companies can leave out vital information about their suppliers’ carbon footprint to appear more environmentally friendly. Waldon claims that often firms calculate their carbon footprints using average values. However, CarbonBlock can determine accurate values through precise tracking. 

According to Walden, the real challenge is not in the technology behind the solution, but in a company’s willingness to change. By creating such supply chain transparency, there’s a risk of losing customer relationships and potentially exposing trade secrets. Sharing such information on the supply chain must therefore be done appropriately and selectively.

Major car manufacturers have made moves to find blockchain supply chain sustainability solutions. Together with Dutch startup Circularise and various suppliers, Porsche has developed a blockchain-based app that allows customers to see product sustainability information. This is done by tracking the plastic content of every product part. Two weeks ago, Circularise announced a €1.5 ($1.8) million funding through the EU’s Horizon 2020 program. The project was also a participant in the Startup Autobahn.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz is aiming for a carbon-neutral passenger car fleet and is working alongside blockchain startup Circulor on a pilot project for CO2 emissions transparency in the cobalt supply chain. Mercedes-Benz records their supplier’s emissions and conducts workshops to identify effective CO2 reduction measures. Volvo is also involved with Circulor, investing in the startup to work on cobalt traceability.